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The Towering Inferno (1974)

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At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it.

Director:

John Guillermin

Writers:

Richard Martin Stern (novel), Thomas N. Scortia (novel) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
3,881 ( 188)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Chief O'Hallorhan
Paul Newman ... Doug Roberts
William Holden ... Jim Duncan
Faye Dunaway ... Susan
Fred Astaire ... Harlee Claiborne
Susan Blakely ... Patty
Richard Chamberlain ... Simmons
Jennifer Jones ... Lisolette
O.J. Simpson ... Jernigan
Robert Vaughn ... Senator Parker
Robert Wagner ... Dan Bigelow
Susan Flannery ... Lorrie
Sheila Allen ... Paula Ramsay (as Sheila Mathews)
Norman Burton ... Giddings (as Normann Burton)
Jack Collins ... Mayor Ramsay
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Storyline

Doug Roberts, Architect, returns from a long vacation to find work nearly completed on his skyscraper. He goes to the party that night concerned he's found that his wiring specifications have not been followed and that the building continues to develop short circuits. When the fire begins, Michael O'Halleran is the chief on duty as a series of daring rescues punctuate the terror of a building too tall to have a fire successfully fought from the ground. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You are there on the 135th floor, no way down, no way out. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 January 1975 (Singapore) See more »

Also Known As:

Flammendes Inferno See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$116,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$139,700,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo (Japan theatrical release)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1 (35mm) 2.2:1(70mm)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The ensemble cast includes four Oscar winners: Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Jennifer Jones and three Oscar nominees: Fred Astaire, Robert Vaughn, Steve McQueen. See more »

Goofs

When O'Halloran is first setting up the forward command on 79 he asks Jernigan for a list of business tenants on 81 or above. Yet, according to the man showing an apartment to a couple near the beginning of the movie, the commercial tenants only go up as far as 80. From 81 up it's all residential. See more »

Quotes

James Duncan: What I wanted to tell us is that Senator Parker is flying in for the dedication tonight. And he's almost guaranteed to sign the Urban Renewal Contract. Now do you know what that means? Skyscrapers like this all over the country! You design 'em, I'll build 'em.
Doug Roberts: Don't you think you're suffering from an edifice complex?
James Duncan: You'll never leave.
Doug Roberts: Right after the party - come on downstairs and watch me burn my black tie.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Pictures logos don't appear in the beginning. See more »

Alternate Versions

The TV network version has about 20 or so minutes of footage added for prime time viewing. The some of the extra scenes include:
  • Fred Astair first arriving at the building art gallery and talking with Jennifer Jones.
  • Additional dialogue between Paul Newman and Faye Dunaway in bed in his office.
  • The jeweler first arriving at the building with the gold scissors and Robert Wagner arguing with his office staff of planing the evening dedication party.
  • A scene with William Holden talking to Faye Dunaway in the building lobby about her moving away from San Francisco.
  • Additional dialogue of the Mayor addressing the crowd at the pre-ceremony gathering.
  • A scene with Faye Dunaway and Susan Blanckley talking at at table about their significant others during the party.
  • A scene where a security chief phones about another fire that's now on the reception area of the 65th floor of the building, and more scenes of firetrucks driving towards the building.
  • The harrowing climb down the firestairs railing of the destroyed stairwell is longer and has some additional dialogue between Paul Newman and the others.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Deep Jaws (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

The Morning After
(uncredited)
Written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
Played at the party when Roberts is first reporting the fire to Duncan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

McQueen and Newman create sparks
13 December 2003 | by bwaynefSee all my reviews

Your typical dumb disaster flick, produced by the king of the genre, Irwin Allen, made notable by the presence of Steve McQueen and Paul Newman who finally agreed to share the screen as equals, something they almost did in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The ever competitive McQueen made his film debut with a bit part in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" in which Newman starred, and one of his ambitions was to finally get top billing over his number one rival. Even with the so-called "diagonal billing" employed in the film and its advertising (with Newman's name elevated slightly above McQueen's), those of us who read from left to right can see that McQueen got his wish. He also got the best role. He's the firefighter, a tight jawed man of action, while Newman is saddled with the less sympathetic role of the architect. But the real star is the burning building. It burns, and impressively at that, but there's something very claustrophobic about this situation which results in less action than Allen's previous smash, "The Posiedon Adventure."

But the acting is better. In addition to McQueen and Newman, the cast includes Richard Chamberlain (particularly good), William Holden, Faye Dunaway, and Fred Astaire. That's an improvement over Carol Lynley and Eric Shea, both of whom Gene Hackman had the misfortune of emoting with two years earlier. Whatever one thinks of this particular genre, "The Towering Inferno" is probably the best of the bunch.


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